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Pedestrian Safety Action Plan open for public comment

Monday, July 31, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Austin’s road to eliminating traffic deaths will involve more planning and at least one new tool in the toolbox according to the draft version of the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

The document – itself a recommendation of the Vision Zero Action Plan adopted by City Council more than a year ago – provides 21 recommendations aimed at reducing the risks of walking in the city of Austin.

“The Recommendations were heavily informed by a detailed analysis of the crash data, along with concerns and priorities expressed by the public through (the Austin Transportation Department’s) public outreach efforts this past spring,” Austin Transportation Director Robert Spillar wrote in a memo attached to the draft sent to Mayor Steve Adler and the other members of Council.

The draft notes that between 2010 and 2015, 1,900 pedestrians were hit by cars. Of those, 121 – the equivalent of 11 City Councils – were killed.

In 2011, the high death toll led the Federal Highway Administration to label Austin as a Pedestrian Safety Focus City. That designation opened up federal resources that helped in the creation of the PSAP.

The recommendations are organized into six categories: engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation, policy and land use, and partners and funding.

At the top of the list is a call for the creation of “a Pedestrian Crossing Improvement Program to install large numbers of high-impact, cost-effective pedestrian safety treatments throughout Austin.”

The document states that the program should emphasize cost-effective solutions and notes that, at $10,000, one pedestrian refuge island is cheaper than a $100,000 pedestrian hybrid beacon.

To determine where and when those treatments are deployed, the document outlines the Pedestrian Safety Priority Network. This new tool uses crash data, location information (such as proximity to government buildings and schools) and the physical characteristics of roads.

“ATD is currently reviewing national best practices to develop standard treatments based on roadway characteristics such as speed, pedestrian and vehicular volumes, crossing distance, and other factors,” the draft states.

The document is currently open for public review and comment. It will be brought before Council later this year.

Photo by Ed Schipul made available under a Creative Commons license.

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